Why INEC Staff Were Arrested Over Registration

Posted on July 31, 2022
MICHAEL AKINOLA
 
 
Following news in the media space about the arrest of INEC Staff in the Ijesha area of Surulere, Lagos, in the about to be concluded Continuous Voters Registration exercise, many Nigerians have reacted insisting that they were not wrong after all while some posited that they were doing the right thing in the wrong place.
It will be recalled that operatives from the Ijeshatedo Police station apprehended three Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff for conspiring with the parish priest of St Brigigs Catholic Church, Ijeshatedo, Lagos, to create an illegal permanent voter’s card registration unit in the church auditorium for members.
P.M.EXPRESS reports that the INEC staff including one Mrs. Rita, Mr. Ikechukwu Izuchukwu and Miss Agbokhna Ebigun, were arrested following a complaint by the Chairman, Residents Association, Raji Azeem, to the Police about ploys by the Church to disenfranchise some members of the public.
According to Raji Azeem, residents had waited to no avail at the INEC recognised registration centre only to discover that electoral officers had been camped at the Catholic Church hall attending to members of the Church.
“The INEC registration officers, according to INEC provision should be stationed at 9A, Imam Thanni but this was not to be. We were there awaiting their arrival but when we discovered that they were not forthcoming, we were worried.”
“Only for us to discover that they had been camped at the St. Brigigs Catholic Church auditorium on the influence of the parish priest registering only members of the church while we were in the queue waiting. It was a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise us.”
“The House 9A Imam Thanni registration centre has remained a constant polling unit since 1983. But the priest decided to play the religious cards by inducing the electoral officers to register only his church members.”
“The Church members were around from 5am but we were unaware of their plan until we busted them in action and handed them over to the Police at the Ijeshatedo Police station. The arrested INEC officers had been crying and begging for their misdeeds” Raji Azeem said.
P.M.EXPRESS gathered that the INEC staff were granted bail by the IPO, Inspector Shola, so that they can continue with the registration. He however, instructed them to return to the Police Station after the registration exercise and that they should discontinue the exercise at the church hall.
A resident, Abdullahi Hassan, said that the INEC staff were busted for doing the right thing at a wrong location.
“Registration of intending voters is good but must be done in stipulated places. The Catholic priest only brought religious colouration into the exercise. The INEC staff therefore, were found doing the right thing but at the wrong location, which was what we faulted” Hassan said.
Another resident, Mrs. Faith Babafemi, said that she did not see anything wrong with what the Catholic priest did. That he was actually helping make sure congregants got registered to be able to perform their civic responsibility.
“Government in the first place should have made provisions for the exercise to be carried out in religious houses where huge number of people aggregate. The vacuum created was what made the priest to bring the INEC staff to the church. And I don’t see anything wrong with that” Mrs. Faith said.

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